Internal investigations and legal professional privilege
Produced in partnership with Noel Power of Dechert
Last updated on 29/07/2020

The following Risk & Compliance practice note produced in partnership with Noel Power of Dechert provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Internal investigations and legal professional privilege
  • Types of legal professional privilege
  • Tips for maintaining privilege
  • Restrict and define your client(s)
  • Understand which privilege applies and when
  • Documents
  • Interviews
  • Advice and guidance by in-house lawyer
  • External lawyers
  • International
  • More...

Internal investigations and legal professional privilege

Legal professional privilege (LPP) protects documents from disclosure to third parties including government agencies, regulators and claimants in civil proceedings. It is important to ensure you preserve legal professional privilege wherever possible when conducting internal investigations. For guidance on maintaining privilege during criminal investigations, see Practice Note: Maintaining privilege during criminal investigations.

Types of legal professional privilege

There are two types of LPP in England and Wales:

Legal advice privilegeLitigation privilege
Protects confidential written or oral communications between a lawyer and a client for the dominant purpose of giving or receiving legal advice and documents.
Advice from an in-house lawyer will be covered provided it is given in the relevant legal context and relates to the legal part of their function (ie it is truly for the purpose of obtaining or giving legal advice). It is unlikely to be covered if it relates to their management, compliance and/or other broader functions.
For more guidance, see Practice Note: Legal professional privilege in civil proceedings—Legal advice privilege
Wider than legal advice privilege.
Protects confidential written or oral communications between a lawyer and client and/or third parties where litigation is contemplated or in train and the dominant purpose of those communications is to prepare for or conduct proceedings.
Litigation privilege can only be extended to proceedings which are adversarial as opposed to
Related documents:
Key definition:
Legal Professional Privilege definition
What does Legal Professional Privilege mean?

A fundamental right which protects the confidentiality of written and oral communications between lawyers and clients. It entitles a party to withhold evidence from production to a third party or court and cannot be waived except by the client. LPP comprises legal advice privilege and litigation privilege.

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